Race Previews

Test Stakes Preview: Balanced Field of 10 Take Aim at Grade 1

Chelsea Durand/NYRA

The feature race on Saturday at Saratoga might be the Whitney Stakes, but the Test Stakes is also a Grade 1 race for 3-year-olds, and this year’s edition has drawn a field of 10 fillies. Leading the charge is the Bob Baffert-trained Faypien, who will ship in from California, as well as the former Bob Baffert trainee American Gal.

After spending her 2-year-old year with Baffert, American Gal was transferred to the care of Simon Callaghan to start this year. Callaghan took his time with American Gal, waiting to unleash her in the Grade 3 Victory Ride at Belmont Park, where she won by 4 3/4 lengths.

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Faypien lost on debut for Bob Baffert but has since won three straight. Last time out, she was a determined winner of the Grade 2 Summertime Oaks at Santa Anita going two turns. In May, she won at the Test’s distance of 7 furlongs against stablemate Noted and Quoted by a 1/2-length.

“She is a filly that has run really well her last two out,” Baffert said of Faypien. “In California, there is really nothing out here for her. I just thought getting a Grade 1 for her would be important. She is a trier. She really tries hard. She has a huge heart. I just hope she gets a clean break.”

One of the challengers will be Chanel’s Legacy, making her first start since transferring to the Chad Summers barn.

“I love this filly,” Summers said. “She came to us in tip-top shape. (Previous trainer) Lynn Chelborad did an unbelievable job with her. We’ve done everything to get her to peak for Saturday and we’re hopeful we’ve done that. She blew out (Tuesday) morning, and I could not be any happier with how she came back.”

The Iowa-bred has already raced in four career Grade 3s, but her only on-the-board finish was a second in the Grade 3 Fantasy at Oaklawn. Still, Summers believes that she’s due for a breakout performance.

“If she’s not 1-2-3, I’ll be disappointed,” he said. “It’s certainly a salty field, but we think 7/8 (of a mile) is her best distance, and she’s giving all signs that she’s sitting on a big race.”

A sprinting rivalry could be brewing between Summers and Baffert, the latter having recently announced that he might send his colt Drefong to battle Summers’ Mind Your Biscuits in Saratoga’s 7-furlong Grade 1 Forego later this month.

“We think that she deserves to be in here,” Summers said. “We’ll give (Baffert) a little preview of what a 7-furlong Grade
1 looks like.”

The Test will go as race 8 on an 11-race card this Saturday. Post time for the race is set for 4:10 EST. Saturday also marks the beginning of the Fasig-Tipton Festival of Racing.

Top Choice

#8 Faypien – Bob Baffert has cooled off compared to his crazy run in the spring when he was literally winning every stakes, but he’s still a major force anytime he’s entered in a race. Faypien ran a gutsy race going two turns in the Summertime Oaks last time out as she dug in and held off Mopotism to pick up the win. Now, she cuts back to 7 furlongs, which is probably what she is better suited for, as she did look like she got a little tired at the end last time out. Baffert ships to win, so expect her to be hard to beat.

Horses to Use in Multi-Race Wagers

#10 American Gal – She started her career with Baffert. Talent-wise, she’s always looked to be a good horse, but she’s had some problems mentally. In a couple of her 2-year-old races, she beat herself by getting into some troubled trips. Now that Callaghan has taken over the training duties, she easily won her only race of the year, the Victory Ride. That was a great sign because she was very well-behaved and could be ready for a dominant run in the female sprint division.

#3 Chalon – She won a stakes last time out by over 6 lengths, so she looks to be ready to try tougher company now. This quality filly has won three out of four races in her short career, and there is a chance that we haven’t seen her best race yet. Trainer Peter Miller was hot a few weeks ago when bringing horses east to Belmont Park, so it will be interesting to see if that carries over to Saratoga.

#2 Your Love – Chad Brown’s trainee is undefeated in her two-race career, and anything he throws onto the track right now is running well, so she’s dangerous. This will be her first try against stakes company, but she has made the logical progression to this next step. From a speed figure standpoint, she may not match up with the top few in this spot, but there are plenty of signs that point to her making another steady improvement in this one.

Whitney Wagering Guide

Exotic Plays

#4 Tequilita – She’s kept good company this year as she exits the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, where she finished ninth, beaten a little over 9 lengths. Her last race at this distance was her coming-out party when she was victorious at Gulfstream Park in the Grade 2 Forward Gal over a nice field in February. Her speed figures are a bit low compared to the top horses in this race, but the cut back in distance is her best chance to win a race like this one.

#9 Chanel’s Legacy – Making her first start for Summers, she also will cut back in distance. The distance switch should be right up her alley, as her best races have come at 6 furlongs to a mile. From a speed figure standpoint, she might be a bit overmatched, but this is a good spot for Summers to try and get her a graded placing. She gets Joel Rosario to ride as well.

#5 Vertical Oak – She won the Grade 3 Miss Preakness Stakes impressively three races back, and last time out, she was second to American Gal in the Victory Ride. She’s finished on the board in seven of her ten career races while running against solid company. It’s troubling that she was blown away by American Gal last time out, but she’s a logical underneath play.

Party Crashers

#1 Minnie Blip – This Churchill Downs shipper picks up Javier Castellano to ride after a 3-length victory against optional claiming company. It’s going to be a class hike for her in this spot, but she’s shown the talent level to give it a go. If Faypien and American Gal don’t show up with their best races, then it will become a wide-open affair.

#7 Divine Miss Grey – Since the trainer change to Danny Gargan, this horse has flourished. She’s won three straight races, each by multiple lengths. This race will be her toughest challenge by a good margin, though, as it will be her first race against stakes company. It’s never easy to start your stakes career in a Grade 1 race, but it’s worth a shot for her connections, considering how fast the horse has looked lately.

Throw Outs

#6 Cursor – She won an allowance race last time out at Belmont Park, which is a positive sign heading into this one. However, she struggled in her only attempt against stakes company, last November’s Grade 3 Tempted at Aqueduct.

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